Neon Creations work

A Bolton-based design firm have reorganised their workforce and improved its lead times following support from Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company.

Neon Creations was set up in 2005 by husband and wife team Tony and Catherine Spink after Tony relocated from London to be with her. Together, they have nearly 30 years’ experience in creating neon signage, lights and pieces of art for branding, events, entertainment, gifts, art and domestic use. Clients include the BBC, River Island and the restaurant chain Barburrito.

While the business was profitable and had a full order book, the firm was at full capacity production-wise and so, were having to turn away business. Tony and Catherine could see there was an opportunity to take on extra business, but they needed help to find a way to be able to do this.

Therefore, they sought support from the Hub. One of the Hub’s specialist manufacturing advisers, Paul Holt, reviewed the company’s manufacturing processes and found ways it could reduce production lead times and increase sales.

Additionally, the firm’s trainee, Sam Beresford, who has been with the company for five years, was given more responsibility, and the quality of her work developed so rapidly, she has now been entrusted with some of the firm’s bespoke commercial work. This meant the company could take on a new employee, meaning Neon Creations now has an adaptable, more knowledgeable workforce. In turn, this has resulted in a quicker turnaround time on projects – product lead time has reduced by a week so far, and is anticipated to reduce by two more weeks – and so, the company is now able to take on more work.

This has shown too, as, since the reorganisation, Tony has created seven bespoke pieces, has attended the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show in March 2017 where he was able to showcase these pieces to new customers, thereby generating more new business, and has also worked in collaboration with local artist Russ Meehan on new, innovative uses for neon. Furthermore, Tony will also be putting some of his pieces on display in an exhibition at Manchester’s Artzu Gallery for two weeks from Thursday 9 November, thereby drawing more attention to Tony’s talent and the company’s work.

Catherine Spink, co-founder of Neon Creations, said: “We had become so busy fulfilling our commercial orders that it left no time for innovation. By reorganising the team, we have been able to create capacity to develop new products and concepts.

“This is a niche business, and it takes time to develop the skills needed to meet the demands of our customers. Working with the Business Growth Hub means that we’ve been able to focus on what the needs of the business are, as our adviser listened to us, affirmed our decisions and gave us the confidence to grow.”

Paul Holt, specialist manufacturing adviser at Business Growth Hub, said: “The business review I carried out with Tony and Catherine identified that, given the artistic value and increased time needed to create unique one-of-a-kind pieces, the time Tony spent on bespoke artwork projects was more profitable to the business than time spent producing signs for bars and restaurants.

“In addition, Tony’s artwork already attracts attention online via social media with any marketing effort. By reorganising their workforce, Tony and Catherine now have the additional capacity for Tony to focus on creating and actively promoting these higher-value products and therefore, increase the company’s profits going forward.”

Businesses looking to access specialist support can visit www.businessgrowthhub.com for more information about the organisation’s extensive range of services. This and other Business Growth Hub projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GM Business Growth Hub project designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester.